For years, brands have talked about trying to crack the Millennial code, but the focus now is shifting to the Gen Zs. Born between 1995 to 2009, Gen Zs, form 26% of Malaysians. According to Ogilvy Malaysia which recently did a study titled "The not so secret lives of Malaysian Gen Z" together with Ipsos, Gen Zs are considered Malaysia's true digital natives, having not known life without the Internet and digital technologies.
If you are recalibrating your focus in 2020 to target the Gen Zs, here are some behavioural quirks of Malaysian Gen Zs you should take note across six elements of popular culture that are significant to them. They are language, sports and fitness, gaming and social media, music, food and beverage, and sustainability.
1. Gaming Alternate sports, be it esports, archery, dodgeball or ultimate frisbee, are gaining popularity among Gen Zs. In the digital sphere where individuality is celebrated - and to a certain extent commodified - Ogilvy said alternate sports speak to the hearts and minds of Gen Z for the novelty and talkability of standing out and cultivating an uncommon interest.
Some may see Gen Z gamers as addicted slackers, but Gen Zs said they are learning valuable life lessons and social skills in the hours spent playing games online.
This trend also has led to the proliferation of gaming into the mainstream, with endorsements from the Youth and Sports Ministry and introduction of esports as a medal sport at the upcoming 30th Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines.
2. "Status-fying" experiences The constant need to exert individuality, particularly in social media and other digital spheres, has given rise to “status-fying” experiences, the study said. In the case of food, for instance, it is no longer at the centre, but instead relegated to remodelled aspirations. A big portion of their gastronomical experiences revolves around feeding their Instagram feed, which informs the places they go to eat and the orders that they place there. Arindam Chatterjee, regional planning director at Ogilvy Malaysia, said:
The camera eats first, is the ritual.
Another food consumption-related behaviour commonly observed among Gen Z is snacking. This can be attributed to boredom or time squeeze, with many feelings that excessive snacking can lead to guilt and skipping of main meals.
3. K-pop is more than just music K-pop is not only confined to music. Instead, it extends into overall culture to include beauty, fashion, and lifestyle. According to Ogilvy's study, micro-communities are also fuelling pop culture with examples such as female rapper Zamira and hip-hop artist Dato Maw. These individuals tap into local culture, language and sound to express themselves in black but emotionally honest ways that embrace failure against ideas of traditional success.
4. Being "extra" with language In terms of language, everything is “extra” amongst Gen Z. They constantly express themselves in hyperbole, and the outcome of this is they are altering the meaning and gravity of common expressions. They also use profanity quite liberally but not necessarily in an offensive manner.
It is used to express surprise, sarcasm, hyperbole and even compliment someone.
Also, an emoji speaks a thousand words in aiding the Gen Zs to express information or complex emotions instantly and creatively while memes they use are topical, customised but above all, superfast.
Chatterjee said Gen Zs are a force to be reckoned with. While brands have been known to evolve over time to keep up with changing consumer trends, the scale and pace with which Gen Z grow in terms of influence and relevance is unprecedented, he said. According to him, language was a key in defining how brands can communicate with this generation. “We gave them the opportunity to rework content on some popular ads; the language and tone they used was not only unconventional but, at times, it was almost Greek to us. This was illuminating as it clearly showed that brands need to get on board Gen Z speak, to ensure their communication was hitting the right notes with this audience," he added. In future, Chatterjee said brands should socialise and connect with their Gen Z audience, understand the way they consume information, and curate content that is relevant to them. Decoding Gen Z is key to resonating with this target audience as they set about to leave their imprint on these individuals.
Meanwhile, this is me while everyone tries to figure out how Gen Zs function: